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Avian Surgical Prep and Temperature Control

Preparing the surgery site on avian patients is quite different than in our canine and feline patients.

The feathers must be plucked from the body in the opposite direction of the way they lay (against the grain). Remove feathers from a large enough area that the surgeon has ample room to perform the surgery. Removing a minimum number of feathers is recommended to help in prevention of hypothermia.

You need to use a low powered hand vacuum to remove all loose feathers. Keep in mind how light weight birds are and how powerful vacuums can be. There is a potential for harm to your patient if the vacuum is too powerful.

Once the feathers are removed and you have a well exposed surgery site the skin needs to be disinfected. Using your surgical scrub and sterile saline, clean the area, alternating between scrub and saline a total of three times. As you are disinfecting try not to get the skin and your prep area overly wet; this will help with temperature control. Alcohol should not be used due to the fact that it contributes to hypothermia.

Monitoring body temperature can be done with an esophageal thermometer; most avian patients have a core temperature of 40-44 degrees C. There are several things you can do to help maintain body temperature. The patient can be placed on a warming device such as a circulating water pad or Baer Hugger. Raising the temperature in the surgery room and using an overhead heat lamp will also help maintain the temperature. Be sure you DO NOT over heat the room or the patient. Covering the patient with a clear drape will allow the anesthetist to closely monitor respiration but the combination of drape and under body warmth can lead to hyperthermia.

References:
Exotic Animal Care – Tully and Mitchell
Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets - Girling